USA Comes Up Short In VNL Final Against Russia

null

At the end of a major tournament, it often seems like the silver medalists are the most disappointed team on the podium. Sure, the bronze medalists lost in the semifinals, but they finished the tournament with a win. 

The USA was that silver-medal winning team at the 2019 Volleyball Nations League tournament, improving on its bronze-medal finish from 2018 and marking the first time its finished higher than third in a major tournament since the 2015 World Cup. But those accomplishments didn’t dull the frustration of being beat by Russia 3-1 (25-23, 20-25, 25-21, 25-20) in the final.

“I’ve gotten way too many third places in my life, and so this isn’t the worst thing that’s happened,” USA outside hitter Taylor Sander said after the match, “but it makes me hungry. I want to get a gold medal and that’s what we’re going to work towards.”

Against Russia, the U.S. men lead with 51 attacking points to Russia’s 49, but the European team had a slight advantage in blocking (10-7) and serving (7-6).

“The serving was the only thing that I feel like we didn’t do very good, so everywhere else I thought we were able to beat that team,” Sander said.

Heading into the fourth set down 2-1, USA head coach John Speraw made a major change in his lineup, moving starting opposite Matt Anderson to the left in place of Garrett Muagututia and inserting Ben Patch to play right side. (Anderson plays outside for his professional team, but has played opposite for USA since 2013.)

“Garrett did a good job of passing, but we needed more punch on the left side,” Speraw said. “I tried moving Matty over to the left where he is comfortable. But it just didn’t work.”

Patch ended the match with just one kill and three attack errors. Middle Jeff Jendryk, who helped spark the comeback coming in off the bench versus Brazil in the semifinals, entered the final midway through the third set but was only able to manufacture two points on one kill and one block.

“We managed to control Matt Anderson, the key player, and Taylor Sander in attack,” Russia’s first-year head coach Tuomas Sammelvuo said. “Blocking was a difference while their reception broke down.”

Sander led the match with 20 points, while Anderson added 19. Russia, on the other hand, had four players in double-digit scoring, and the USA made 29 errors in the match, compared to Russia’s 25. 


null


“I think we were patient because we knew USA was a great passing team,” Sammelvuo said. “We wanted to play a long match because they also played five sets late. Maybe their serving and passing wouldn’t be as effective. We started the game in trouble with our opposite, but then he was able to get the most important balls down when we really needed it. It was a team effort, to believe and to trust in each other. We played as a team.”

Four American players made the Volleyball Nations League Dream Team, highlighted by Anderson winning Most Valuable Player and Best Opposite. Micah Christenson received Best Setter, Erik Shoji Best Libero, and Max Holt Best Middle Blocker.

“It’s tough to be happy with losing a gold medal match,” Anderson said. “I am happy with the way that I played. But I can play a lot better. I’m going to work really hard these next two weeks before we take off for the [Olympic qualification tournament], as I’m sure all of us are.”

Team USA wen 12-7 overall at the 2019 VNL and will now focus on recovering from the grueling seven-week competition in order to bring their best at the upcoming Olympic qualification tournament in the Netherlands versus Belgium, Netherlands, and Korea.

“It’s been good,” Sander said of the 2019 VNL. “We’ve gotten better. It’s been a battle. It’s been hard. We’ve had some bruised up hurt guys, so it’s tough, but it’s fun to experience this.” 

NCAA Tournament Watch Guide

The NCAA tournament is here. Check out the slate of games you can watch right here on FloVolleyball.

All The NCAA Tournament Info You Need

The NCAA Tournament is here! The selection committee released the bracket Sunday night and action starts Thursday at 4:30 pm ET. 

Big Ten Weekend Watch Guide

For most conferences the post season has already begun, for the Big Ten there are still a number of regular season games to settle first. 

FloVolleyball Weekly Notebook: Tickets Punched

It’s our last weekly update of the regular season. Here are the top headlines and storylines leading up to Sunday’s NCAA Selection Show.

American Men In CEV Champions League

Just like we did a few weeks ago with the women, we’re going to make it a whole lot easier for you to follow your favorite American professional volleyball players overseas by breaking down where you can see Team USA athletes in the 2019-20 CEV Champions League. 

Biggest Takeaways From The CAA Championship

Towson’s magical season hasn’t come to an end yet. The Tigers strolled through the 2019 Colonial Athletic Association Championship to claim the program’s second conference title and secure an automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament. They are the first team since 1996 to go undefeated in the regular season and win the postseason championship.

CAA Championship Wrap Up

Towson became the first team in over a decade to go undefeated for an entire season in CAA play and win the conference title in the same year since George Mason in 1996. The Tigers won 22 straight games, with 16 of them being conference wins, to finish the season at 28-2 overall and 16-0 in the CAA. They now receive an automatic bid to the 2019 NCAA Volleyball tournament.

Everything You Need To Know About The NCAA Postseason

The postseason is officially upon us. Thursday, four conferences begin their tournaments, with eight more kicking off Friday, and one league, the Southern Conference, started its tourney with a play-in match on Tuesday night. NCAA Tournament berths are on the line come the championship matches on Saturday and Sunday.

Top 7 Big Ten Matches Of 2019

Two more weeks of competition remain before the 2019 Big Ten women’s volleyball champion is crowned. There’s still plenty of time for big, game-changing results to roll in, but we wanted to take a moment to look back on some of the most exciting matches of the season to date in what is one of the, if not the, most competitive women’s volleyball conference out there. 

CAA Championship Preview: Towson Heavily Favored

The final regular-season results for the 2019 Colonial Athletic Association women’s volleyball rolled in on Sunday, and the nine teams in the league assumed their final positions in the standings.